New Tallaght Hospital coffee shop causes a stir with families

By Mary Dennehy

THERE’S tension brewing in Tallaght Hospital after a new, commercial coffee shop has taken over from the volunteer-led coffee shop in the main atrium.

Over the past year, concerns were raised by patients and their families after a decision was made to introduce a commercial café into the hospital’s atrium, a venture which would replace the volunteer coffee shop.

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At the time, Tallaght Hospital confirmed that the Volunteer Coffee Shop, in consultation and agreement with the Volunteer Service management, was being moved to a new seated space in the hospital – with management stressing the need for a commercial coffee shop, which would facilitate longer opening hours for patients, visitors and staff.

However, in recent weeks, complaints over the prices being charged by the new coffee shop, which stocks Starbucks, have been made – with The Echo understanding that a number of staff are also highlighting the expense for patients and their families who may be in the hospital for long periods of time.

While the volunteer coffee shop is still in operation from 10am to 4pm on weekdays, some users of the hospital have claimed that their selection of food has been scaled back.

One hospital user told The Echo: “This is very unfair to all the patients both in-patients and out-patients, visitors and staff who relied on the volunteer coffee shop for a reasonable priced snack.

“I know that the volunteer coffee shop is not able to open [the hours] of a retail business, but they could provide an alternative when they are open.”

When contacted by The Echo, a spokeswoman for Tallaght Hospital said: “Following extensive feedback from patients, visitors, volunteers and staff members, Tallaght Hospital has recently redesigned its hospital atrium to benefit all users.

“The volunteer coffee shop, which was established primarily as a patient and visitor service, will continue to operate on weekdays between 10am and 4pm, offering a small selection of tea, coffee and sweet treats, as well as a friendly ear for patients and visitors who would like a chat with volunteers and get some friendly support.

“Staff and the public can also avail of a wide selection of dining options at the hospital which, subsidised for employees of the hospital, is open from 7am until 3pm on weekdays.”

She added: “A new commercial coffee shop with a wide selection of products is now operating seven days a week, from 7am until 9.30pm on weekdays and between 8am and 8pm on weekends.

“Prices are in line with the common marketplace and other Dublin Academic Teaching Hospitals.”

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